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11:01 PM 21st November 2021
nature

Bird Flu - Latest Situation: Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Declared Across Great Britain


Following a number of detections of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds across Great Britain, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across the whole of Great Britain to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.

This means that from 5pm on Wednesday 3 November 2021 it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds and when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe over the winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.

The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

In a joint statement the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales said:
"Following a number of detections of avian influenza in wild birds across Great Britain we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across the whole of Great Britain. This means that all bird keepers must take action now to prevent the disease spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.

"Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding. It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

"The UK health agencies have confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and UK food standards agencies advise that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers."


The introduction of the AIPZ comes after the disease was detected in captive birds at a number of premises across Great Britain.

In the North this includes:
H5N1 (high pathogenic) avian influenza confirmed at a commercial poultry premises near Salwick in Lancashire on 14 November.
H5N1 (high pathogenic) avian influenza confirmed at a commercial poultry premises near Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire on 14 November.
H5N1 (highly pathogenic) avian influenza confirmed at a premises near Kirkham in Lancashire on 16 November.
H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) avian influenza confirmed at a premises near Mouldsworth, Cheshire West & Chester, Cheshire on 20 November.
H5N1 (high pathogenic) avian influenza confirmed at a premises near Copeland in Cumbria on 21 November.


Following a risk assessment, the Chief Veterinary Officer has also declared a localised avian influenza prevention zone for parts of North Yorkshire, namely the districts of Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire.

This means from 8pm on 21 November 2021 it will be a legal requirememt for all bird keepers in the area to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

In all cases the birds on site are humanely culled and Protection and Surveillance Zones are put in place to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The risk level for avian influenza incursion in wild Birds in Great Britain has been raised from ‘medium’ to ‘high’. For poultry and captive birds the risk level has been raised from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ at premises where biosecurity is below the required standards, but remains ‘low’ where stringent biosecurity measures are applied.

The AIPZ now in force across GB, does not include a requirement to house birds. However, this is being kept under constant review. With the increased risk of Avian Influenza during the winter, the need to include a mandatory housing requirement in the AIPZ may arise. Further disease control measures will be based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) means bird keepers across the country must:
Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures;
Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas;
Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).

The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of bird flu.

Poultry shows, markets and gatherings:

Gatherings of poultry, galliforme or anseriforme birds have also been banned. Galliforme birds include pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkey and guinea fowl. Anseriforme birds include ducks, geese, and swans. See the bird gatherings guidance for further information.

Wild birds:

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carries out year-round avian influenza surveillance of dead wild birds submitted through public reports and warden patrols. Our weekly findings of avian influenza in wild birds can be found here.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to Defra’s national dead wild bird helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (please select option 7) and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301. Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice.